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Blessing the Lord at All Times (Psalm 34)

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In Psalm 34, David appears to be full of joy and gladness as he calls out to the Lord singing:

“I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!
I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:1-4).

A few verses later he continues his anthem:

“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack” (Psalm 34:8-9).

If we stopped at this spot in the psalm, we may be inclined to believe that living the Christian life is victorious in the sense that everything seems to be going well; as there is blessing and praise and gladness and exulting, and the Lord delivers us from all our fears. 

Yet this passage does not mean that all is happy for the Christian, or that every circumstance brings a smile. Listen to David’s words later in his psalm: “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18). Obviously, David has also been going through times of hurt, trouble, and sadness. For us this might mean times of disappointment with a child, or a discouragement in the workplace. Maybe a loved one has brought sadness in some way, or has passed away. It could be that someone you love is struggling spiritually, and you wish so much you could bring them along in their faith.

However, the promise of this psalm seems to be that the Lord will cause the true believer in Christ to rejoice in the Lord even through the difficulties.  Even in times of sadness and struggle, God is always good and worthy to be praised. Ultimately, in Christ, all tears are wiped away and all struggles will disappear; yet while here in this life, the believer will learn to rejoice in his great God through days of laughter and days of distress. David is encouraged because when he is brokenhearted, the Lord is near to him. It is such a comfort knowing that our Lord will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able to endure (1 Corinthians 10:13), and that He has faced discouragement as we have (Hebrews 4:15). The writer of Hebrews also tells us that because Jesus suffered, He is able to help the sufferer (Hebrews 2:18). What a blessing!

W. Forsyth writes that the Christian life is not a ritual, but is something “belonging to the soul…something personal, as between the soul and God.”[1] Life as a Christian is growing in Him, as he walks through life with us and as we learn to lean more and more on Him.

[1] W. Forsyth, The Preacher’s Complete Homiletic on the Book of Psalms, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1974), 159.